What Is the Difference Between a Green Card and a Citizenship?

A Visa in a black bag

The United States is a land of opportunities, and with the prestige of the country and the promises it holds, it is no surprise that a lot of individuals are mesmerized by living “The American Dream”. If you’re not a native origin of the United States, the next best thing that gives you the privileges of a U.S. citizen is a Green Card.

The U.S. Green Card gives you the lawful right to live and work in the United States of America while enjoying the majority of the benefits that citizens enjoy (but not all). But the good thing is that having a Green Card makes you a permanent resident of the country.

Though the green card and citizenship give individuals privileges of residing and working in the USA, there are certain differences between the two statuses that we’d discuss in this article. But before we do that, we need to first explain the things that make someone qualified for the green card and citizenship respectively.

How to Qualify for a Green Card:

1. Those Who Already Have Green Cards and Need a Renew

If you are already a green card holder and have held your green card for close to 10 years, you’re expected to renew it. Having an existing green card makes you eligible for a reissuance provided you have clean records.

2. Relatives of U.S Citizens or Relatives of Permanent Residents

If you have a spouse, parent, or child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, then you’re eligible for a family-sponsored green card.

Relevant: How to Move to the USA from Canada

3. Workers on Employment Visa

Employment is another thing that makes people qualified for a green card. USA Employers sponsor foreigners for green cards based on the skills and qualifications that they have which their organization needs.

4. Investors

Individuals who are actively invested in the U.S. economy with a proven track record of doing so are eligible for green cards.

5. Diversity Lottery

The United States of America has an annual program that provides green cards to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. This is tagged the diversity lottery, and is open to individuals from the listed nations to apply. Learn more about US diversity visa eligibility and eligible countries.

How to Qualify for U.S Citizenship

U.S. citizenship can be obtained through naturalization; a process that requires five years of permanent residency (3 years for spouses of U.S. citizens). You’ll have to pass a citizenship test and demonstrate English language proficiency and good moral character.

Best Practices for Green Card and Citizenship Applications

  • Get professional guidance: Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure proper application preparation, minimize errors, and increase the likelihood of approval.
  • Gather documentation diligently: Collect all required documents well in advance of the application deadline to avoid delays.
  • Prepare thoroughly for interviews: Practice answering common interview questions and be ready to articulate your ties to the U.S.


  • Maintain a clean immigration record: Avoid any criminal convictions or immigration violations that could jeopardize your application.

Difference Between a Green Card and a Citizenship?

The key distinctions that can be found between the Green Card holders and permanent US citizens can be traced to 4 key areas; status, rights, travel access, and renewal. In the following paragraphs, we’ll discuss the different areas and the differences for each status.

Green Card

  • Status: Permanent Resident
  • Rights: Right to Live and Work in the U.S
  • Travel Access: Can Travel Outside the U.S but May require a re-entry permit
  • Renewal: Green card holders must renew their status periodically (every 10 years)

U.S Citizenship

  • Status: Full Member of the American Society
  • Rights: Right to vote, hold public office, and petition for family members
  • Travel Access: Can travel outside the U.S. without restrictions
  • Renewal: U.S. citizenship is permanent and does not require renewal

What Happens After 10 Years with a Green Card?

Many 10-year green card expires after 10 years. So, it is expected that you apply for renewal after 10 years or 6 months before the expiration using Form I-90

How Many Times Can You Get a Green Card

There’s no limit to how many times you can apply for a green card as a first-time applicant. If you’re also renewing, there’s no limit.

Can You Be Deported Because of An Expired Green Card?

Ideally, Green Card holders maintain the status of permanent residents and can’t be deported to their country of origin. However, care should be taken to avoid committing crimes, or violating laws that can force their residency to be revoked.

How Can a Green Card Holder Become a Citizen?

For a Green Card holder to qualify for citizenship, the applicant will need to fulfil other eligibility requirements and must have lived in the US for at least 5 years (or 3 years if you are married to a US citizen).

Conclusion on the Difference Between a Green Card and a Citizenship Holder

In summary, both green card and citizenship statuses give the individuals residency rights. Though limited for green card holders, they both enjoy the dividends of permanent residents. The major difference between a green card and a citizenship holder can be tied to status, rights, travel access, and renewal. In this article, we’ve ensured to cover all the relevant information that you need to know regarding the similarities and differences between a green card and a citizenship.


  1. USA Gov
  2. Forbes
  3. Boundless
  4. USA Visa Counsel

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Richard Okiasi

I started Fasthire in 2019 with the goal of helping young professionals bridge the gap between their current position and their dream careers. Through my growth process, I have worked with clients from different parts of the world. By writing CVs, Personal/Statement of Purposes, optimizing LinkedIn profiles, I have discovered certain things that make candidates successful in their job or school application. We share all the relevant information here. Do well to drop your thoughts about our content and also share with your loved ones. If you need our service, send us a mail to fasthireng@gmail.com.


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